FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Three Brooklyn Residents, South Carolina Man Indicted for
Interstate Firearms Trafficking
39 Weapons Purchased During Course of Four-Month Investigation
Brooklyn Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that four people—including two brothers— have been indicted for allegedly trafficking close to 40 firearms from South Carolina to Brooklyn, New York and selling the weapons to an undercover officer over a four month period in Cypress Hills.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The majority of guns used in Brooklyn crimes are handguns trafficked into our communities from other states with notoriously lax gun laws. This case highlights our determination to aggressively combat gun violence and hold gun traffickers accountable. I commend the brave undercover officer and the dedicated prosecutors in my office who helped us bring this important case.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “These are the types of cases that helped make 2016 the safest year in New York City history. The Department purchased dozens of firearms in covert buys, preventing them from being used to commit violence across this City. It’s an example of the precision policing we discussed when we announced the City’s historic drop in crime and it’s exactly what we’ll continue doing to further reduce crime in 2017. I want to thank the officers in this case who made the gun purchases from the defendants and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s whose work led to today’s indictments.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendants as Shawn Landrum, 40; Jamel Landrum, 38; and Ashley Finch, 22, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The defendants were variously charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, second-degree criminal sale of a firearm, third-degree criminal sale of a firearm, second-degree criminal possession of a firearm, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and fourth-degree conspiracy. They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley. Defendants Shawn and Jamel Landrum were ordered held on $500,000 bail and defendant Ashley Finch was ordered held on $100,000 bail. A fourth defendant, Dondrell Cheeks, 27, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, has been arrested on charges of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and fourth-degree conspiracy. He is presently detained in South Carolina pending extradition to Brooklyn.
The Acting District Attorney said the investigation included an undercover officer making multiple purchases of weapons in the vicinity of 174 Sunnyside Avenue in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and at least one sale in the vicinity of 225 Van Siclen Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn.
The Acting District Attorney said that beginning in June 2016 and continuing through December 1, 2016, the undercover officer allegedly made numerous gun purchases from Shawn Landrum. The transactions took place in front of Landrum’s home which he shares with his brother Jamel and his brother’s girlfriend, Ashley. It is alleged that one to nine weapons were sold on each occasion with the purchase price ranging from $620 to $8,050.
According to the investigation, Shawn Landrum initially purchased the weapons from Dondrell Cheeks—a South Carolina gun supplier—and would later return to Brooklyn to resell the guns for a profit. Jamel Landrum is alleged to have both provided financial assistance for the illegal weapons purchases and conducted one of the sales himself, while Ashley Finch allegedly arranged the financial wire transfers to Cheeks via MoneyGram and Western Union to complete the illegal sale. It is further alleged that on at least one occasion, Landrum travelled on a low cost bus service, GoToBus, to transport weapons from South Carolina to New York.
In South Carolina, private firearm transfers are not subject to background checks; New York State requires background checks for all firearm transfers, with the exception of transfers to immediate family members.
The Acting District Attorney said that the defendants allegedly sold a wide variety of handguns and other weapons to the undercover including a .9mm Taurus pistol, .a 38 Rossi revolver, a .9mm Smith and Wesson pistol, a .380 Bersa pistol, a .357 Smith and Wesson pistol and an SKS assault rifle.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Edward Mercado, with the assistance of Detective Joseph Scialabba of the New York City Police Department’s Firearm’s Investigations Unit, under the supervision of Sergeant Matthew Griffin and Sergeant Robert Abramson, Lieutenant Thomas McPartland, Captain Jonathan Korabel, Deputy Inspector Brian Gill and the overall supervision of Assistant Chief James Essig of the Gun Violence Suppression Division.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, Deputy Chief of VCE and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Patrica McNeill, Deputy Chief.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.